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The Allied Health Ambassadors (AHA) of the Department of Allied Health Sciences (DAHS) began to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic by creating a video to encourage others to stay safe and healthy as the University prepares to return to campus.

Multiple students, including second-year Doctor of Physical Therapy Emily Goodnight and second-year master’s of speech-language pathology student Natasha Awad, worked on the two-minute video with other ambassadors across the department to showcase some of the changes that students will face when they return to campus.

Stephen Hooper, associate dean of medicine and chair of the DAHS, said the student leaders demonstrated several critical health messages in a playful and informative way with respect to changes that students should expect.

“Creativity knows no rest—even during a pandemic,” Hooper said. “I am grateful for their efforts.”

Goodnight, from the Division of Physical Therapy, joined the AHA program because of its mission for community outreach and the opportunity to collaborate with other students across disciplines.

“There is so much value in bringing together the unique perspectives of different health care professionals,” Goodnight said. “When watching the video, I hope students will be reminded of the important precautions they can take to protect themselves and others during this pandemic.”

Natasha Awad, who represents the Division of Speech and Hearing Sciences, said she hopes people who view the video will find it relatable and memorable.

“This is a very stressful time,” Awad said. “My goal was to have students connect with the video on a more personal level so they can implement tips even more and understand we are all in this together.”

The AHA program began in 2002 under the leadership of Brenda Mitchell, associate chair of the DAHS Office of Student Services and AHEC Operations. It aims to promote interdisciplinary student involvement by encouraging communication between students and administration, peer camaraderie, recruitment of prospective students, assistance to matriculating students, and alumni involvement. The program also raises funds each year for organizations that serve those with disabilities, including but not limited to Victory Junction, Special Olympics, and Perfectly Afflicted.

More than 30 students from across seven health sciences disciplines of clinical laboratory science, radiologic science, physical therapy, occupational therapy, clinical rehabilitation and mental health counseling, physician assistant studies, and speech and hearing sciences, comprise the group. Mitchell said it is an honor to lead such outstanding students.

The program is recognized by the University.

Stephen Hooper, PhD, joined the DAHS in 2013. Brenda Mitchell, PhD, is also an associate professor in the Division of Speech and Hearing Sciences.